Pro skaters visit Manila

By Lawrence Casiraya

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CAIRO FOSTER thinks there?s not enough places here that kids can go to and skate ? legally. By that, he means not constantly looking behind your back to see if there are security people around.

The guy surely knows how kids feel. Born in Taiwan, he took up skateboarding when he was 13 and, after having transferred to California, he?s been skating for nearly decades now.

He?s been touring around the world as a professional skateboarder and was in Manila recently for the Jeepney Skate Tour, organized by Aloha Boardsports.

He was joined by fellow pros Chris Haslam, Cooper Wilt and Ryan Decenzo as part of the Dwindle team, filming footages of the tour for upcoming skate videos.

Foster and his cohorts wowed a good-sized Filipino crowd ? some of them coming from nearby provinces - who trooped to Fort Bonifacio on that Saturday hoping to see their idols in action.

But before that, the group ventured out into the city and got the chance to skate one afternoon at the Rajah Sulayman park near Roxas Boulevard.

?The passion for skateboarding is definitely here,? Foster said in a press briefing prior to the Saturday main event. ?It?s just sad because we were told there?s not a lot of skate parks and that you need to get the necessary permits.?

In the US, skateboarding (and the entire youth culture behind it) started emerging into the mainstream sometime during the 70s and is now a billion-dollar industry thanks to ample media coverage (X-Games on ESPN, for example) and the backing of big-name sponsors.

Pros like Foster are practically paid to showcase their skills, are fully-equipped by sponsors from shoes to skateboards and get to star in skate videos.

The 32-year old skateboarder, however, quickly dispels the glamour and popularity attached to the sport.

?Some kids we see and meet skate for the wrong reasons. It is not to become famous. They are missing the whole point of it,? Foster said.

To which Chris Haslam also had something to say. Haslam, easily recognizable with his flowing beard, is recognized as one of the best these days when it comes to performing tricks on a skateboard.

?Some of us are lucky to be at the right place at the right time. But if parents are putting pressure of their kids to be sponsored and all that, it gives a bad impression instead,? Haslam said.

He quickly added: ?So our advice to parents out there: Do not be a soccer mom or dad!?

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